May 13, 2021

Guatemalan indigenous work Rabinal Achí fights against the language barrier

With the hope of prevailing over the invasions of other cultures, languages ​​and customs, the series of presentations of the Guatemalan Mayan indigenous music, dance and theater of Rabinal Achí, in the north of the Central American country on the occasion of the employers’ fair, began on Thursday in Guatemala of St. Paul.

The show is an artistic representation of a dynastic drama whose origins date back to the fifteenth century and that hundreds of years later, remains on stage in the town of Rabinal, about 88 kilometers away from Guatemala City, in the northern department of Baja Verapaz, a predominantly indigenous area q’eqchi ‘, poqomchi’ and achí.

It also persists as an ancestral tradition that fights against invasions: first defeated the Spanish invasion in the sixteenth century and then, before a series of external factors, it remains in force among young people despite the “distractions” offered by the media, social networks and television.

One of the main actors of the staging is Wilfredo Iboy Morales, who represents K’iche ‘Achí, the antagonist of the play.

Iboy, honored to wear the colorful costumes and typical dance masks, underlines the “importance of keeping our culture alive,” which “was not invaded by anyone.”

Neither other “Mayan federations that were before the Spanish invasion, nor the Spaniards evangelized us during the invasion,” he told Efe Iboy, who emphasized that “what is difficult” for new generations “is (to overcome) the barrier of language, because (now) we are being invaded by the media, the press, radio, television, cell phones. ”

In his opinion, Rabinal’s childhood and youth are “interested” in that “access to different cultures because they have the means of dissemination. That is the most difficult thing (to preserve the tradition of Rabinal Achí), but we are here.”

The resistance against invasions is written by Rabinal Achí, the “representation of a war,” Iboy described, in which the K’iche ‘Federation wanted to expand its dominion over Rabinal, but Prince Rabinal Achí opposed resistance to prevent it. ”

Prince K’iche ‘Achí, the invader, was captured and taken to the main palace where he was tried and convicted, although “he was granted his human rights, respecting life as a prisoner and his military rank,” Iboy explained just moments before starting The presentation of the work this Thursday.

Other characters in the staging are Rabinaleb’s king, Job’Toj; and his servant, Achij Mun Achij Mun Ixoq Mun, who has both male and female traits; the mother of the green feathers, Uchuch Q’uq ’Uchuch Raxon; thirteen eagles and thirteen jaguars representing the warriors of the fortress of Kajyub.

Before the parade, Rabinal concentrates. The town lives a series of events around the San Pablo fair to prepare the annual holiday. The morning begins with a dance in honor of the fallen, grandparents and respect for the ancestors who danced before.

Iboy, thoughtful, said that “only when it reaches maturity” is when people “go back to find their roots” and agree on that cultural quest represented as the ultimate tradition in Rabinal Achí.

“For me it is a legacy that is priceless. When I tell you I want to cry because it is a blessing to have been born in Rabinal,” he said.

The work focuses on Rabinal, a town that was also hit hard by the Guatemalan armed conflict that confronted the guerrillas and the Army, which considered as internal enemy even the non-combatant indigenous populations that supported the insurgency.

More than 200,000 victims, 45,000 disappeared and one million internally displaced left this war lived in the country between 1960 and 1996, with 93 percent of the victims attributed to the State and paramilitary groups, 3 percent to the guerrillas and the rest without identify.

The Rabinal, in addition, is not everything, according to the head of the Brotherhood of St. Paul in Rabinal, Santos López Chen, 73, who is excited about the previous preparation there was and that began on January 6 with “the first novena “, other traditional dances and the food that abounds on this date.

“It is a tradition that generates motivation for all the people who come, wrap tamales and work together for everyone,” he concluded.

Esteban Biba and Emiliano Castro Sáenz


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